The Importance of PT

I’ve been in LA for a couple of days now and I think I’m finally ready to talk about the city a bit more. The single most important aspect of LA that makes it (as far as I can tell) pretty damn unique all over the world is the lack of a coherent public transportation system (which we shall now refer to as PT). If you want to go anywhere is LA, you have to DRIVE there. I don’t think people that have not visited the city really appreciate what I mean by you have to DRIVE there, so I’ll try and elaborate and paint a picture of this as much as possible.

Imagine a place that is very wide and vast, where things are not built upwards but outwards. Now imagine that same place not having any real public transportation network. This place has several bus routes scattered around the place and a trainline that connects a couple of places (but nothing really significant). If you want to go anywhere, you have to DRIVE there, and so does everyone else. So what you get are massive highways (or freeways) sometimes spanning 8 lanes on one side providing the transport routes for the entire city. There is no other means for you to get around.

For all those people living in European cities (and I’m sure many American cities, but you probably already know this by now), I’m sure if you’re like me you use Public Transport (PT). Be it the bus system, the trams, the tubes/metro/trains etc. You probably also complain about the systems that you use when they don’t operate properly or run a bit late. Like me you’ve probably thought to yourself on those occasions, wouldn’t it be really cool if we could just DRIVE everywhere and not have to deal with all this waiting, such a waste of time. Well some FOOL thought of the same thing but instead of just getting on with life, he followed through with the idea and the city of LA was born. See the only problem is that he was so selfish that he didn’t think the other 4 million people thinking the same thing. So his answer to this problem of all these people was to build BIGGER roads.

This is all fine and dandy, except for the fact that basically what this does is completely displace the city. The city now has no backbone and you don’t really see people going about their business, all you see are cars going places. You’ll see a person on the rare occasion when he wants to get out of his car and go into a store or something like that, but in all food places that’s been taken care of with the drive through.

It’s an interesting experiment, in that it shows you what happens when there is no PT to combine the city. It disconnects the city from it’s people and all you see are cars and freeways, with vegitation in between.


  1. It is weird. I walked a lot when I was there, and got funny looks from the car drivers; it was interesting, though, to be able to walk through and see the marked differences between different neighbourhoods. I also happened upon a Mexican carnival at random, which never would have happened if I’d been driving.

    1 Matthew Pennell
    Quote | 3/6/2006
  2. I think it’s all of southern california. The suburban sprawl is horrible. The funny thing is that people don’t believe that public transportation is a good thing. They shun it. They’re like, oh that’s only for Europeans because they’re so stuck up that they want to protect the enviroment by not driving etc. etc. etc.

    southern california is the best place but the worst place

    2 Daniel Nicolas
    Quote | 3/6/2006
  3. Here in Europe, you’ll only find people complaining about the public transport system in the UK. Everywhere else runs on time. Especially Denmark — seriously, Denmark is amazing, things actually arrive when they say they will.

    I mean, they actually arrive at 13.14, or whatever, and not 13.11 or 13.15. It’s marvellous. And they also have double decker trains!

    3 Mark
    Quote | 7/6/2006
  4. Detroit, same deal. Same mess.

    4 kmac
    Quote | 12/6/2006

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